Some books age poorly; others are poorly aged from the moment they’re published. American Crisis: Leadership Lessons From the COVID-19 Pandemic, Andrew Cuomo’s recent memoir, manages to fall into both categories. The New York governor’s paean to his handling of the COVID-19 crisis is in some ways a classic political chronicle: a hero’s journey, through the ordeal to the victory, told by the hero himself. (The tale is often interrupted by musings about the power of government and the grim call of history. The author, along the way, compares himself to Franklin D. Roosevelt and Winston Churchill.) But American Crisis deviates from its peers in its timing: It is considering in retrospect an event that has not, strictly speaking, ended. The book was released in October; by November, New York was facing another surge in COVID-19 cases.
The book now looks even more ill-conceived. Since last week, three women have come forward to accuse Cuomo of unwanted sexual advances. Lindsey Boylan, a former Cuomo staffer, alleged that he had “created a culture within his administration where sexual harassment and bullying is so pervasive that it is not only condoned but expected”—and that the governor kissed her against her will while the two were alone in his office. Charlotte Bennett, another former employee, said that Cuomo asked her invasive questions about her personal life, including whether she had ever had sex with older men. (He is currently 63; she is 25.) Anna Ruch, who met Cuomo at a wedding, claims that the governor touched her bare lower back and, after she removed his hand, asked, “Can I kiss you?” (A friend snapped a photo of Ruch’s shocked expression as Cuomo held her face in his hands during the encounter.)